Thursday, March 31, 2016

North Monterey County High students headed for WE conference in Los Angeles

Fourty-four students from the North Monterey County High School Castroville Teen Leadership Council service club have been invited as special guests to attend the WE Day event on April 7 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

The WE Schools program aims at inspiring students to solve problems beyond their campuses. WE schools come together during "WE Day," a massive pep rally where thousands of students hear inspirational stories and get pumped up to create their own changes.

The club "has truly embodied the spirit of WE" said club advisor, Yvette Padilla. "The student group has dedicated their time to tackling several issues, both local and global."

The club collected blankets to donate to animals in need through the SPCA. The group has also been donating their time to feed people in need through a local shelter, volunteering to wrap gifts for children in need over the holidays, and running youth leadership activities for local low-income children. The group also worked to raise awareness about Spina Bifida in honor of one of their teacher's child.

The group is also committed to making changes globally, Padilla said. They have decided to fundraise to support education in Nicaragua, and have already hosted a bake sale and are currently working on a coin drive.

"These students are excited to continue their support for local and global causes throughout the rest of the year," Padilla said.

To enhance the WE Day conference experience, district officials have coordinated educational tours of Southern California college campuses, including University of Los Angeles and Mount Saint Mary’s College. A panel presentation by local educational leaders is planned for the 44 students who will be attending.

Have a safe and fun trip, guys and gals! Let us know how it went!

Greenfield Superintendent Doc Ervin to bid adieu

From the moment Harry "Doc" Ervin arrived in Greenfield, he was fond of saying "When I leave in three years..." as a way to introduce the changes he was making and how he'd make sure they would endure beyond his tenure.

But it didn't take him that long to actually leave. Ervin has accepted a job with the Bakersfield City School District, where he'll begin July 1. He's been Greenfield's superintendent for two years.

Ervin will earn $225,000 annually, $12,000 in relocation expenses and a $600 monthly travel allowance along with 24 vacation days per year, according to The Bakersfield Californian.

Ervin's last day in Greenfield will be June 30, a spokesperson said. No word on whether he expects to take vacation time during the last few days to prepare for his move.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Japanese speech contest winner and more

John Ampa Jr., a student from Everett Alvarez High School, was the winner of this year's Monterey County Japanese Speech contest with his speech "If I could Redo My Life.

Jorge Rodriguez from Alisal High earned the Judge's award with his speech "Growing up as an Immigrant."

The event, which took place March 11, was attended by 50 college students from Japan. They made presentations in English about Japanese culture, holidays, dance and rice!

"It was a memorable and wonderful event where our students' love for the Japanese language and culture were celebrated and showcased," said Minako Kamimura, Japanese language teacher at Salinas High. 

 And speaking of Japanese art, if you happen to take a stroll on Main St. in Salinas Friday, during First Friday Art Walk, make sure you admire the pieces produced by Salinas Union High School Students.

 "This is a first time event, and we are very excited to showcase the talents and creativity of our students," Kamimura said. The Art walk takes place from 5 to 8 p.m.

* An earlier version of the blog misidentified Kamimura as a Salinas High parent. 

Peninsula districts host forum on Ogle, social media

Carmel, Pacific Grove and Monterey Unified have teamed up to offer an education forum on the impact of social media in schools and communities, with the presentation of Joe Allen, a police officer with the Glendale Police Department.

Allen helps law enforcement agencies, school districts and parents understand the impact of social media in schools and the community. He will help parents and the community understand the current social media world of blogs sites, messenger sites, photo posting and anonymous self-destructing mobile apps.

Carmel, Monterey and Pacific Grove officials meet regularly to address issues of mutual concern. Recently, all three districts faced misuse of the social media app Ogle. This forum is an opportunity to educate parents about it.

Two presentations will be held at 7 p.m. on consecutive days:

On Tuesday, April 5, at the Pacific Grove Performing Arts Center, 935 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove.
On Wednesday, April 6, at the Carmel Performing Arts Center, 3600 Ocean Ave., Carmel.

Scholarships galore!

High school seniors should be done with college applications and by now, many even know which college or university they'll attend.

Here's a couple of ones. I'm sure I'll come across more in the weeks to come.

The S.T.A.R. Foundation of Monterey County is accepting applications for the Performing Arts Scholarship Awards for 2016-2017. Deadline is April 30. The program exists to help graduating Monterey County high school seniors pursue their interest in the performing arts beyond the secondary school setting. Depending on available funds, students attending a two-year college will receive $500. each year. Students attending a four-year college will receive $1000. per year. For more information, contact Suzanne Mentzer at or click here.

Caltrans offers $750 scholarships

Caltrans District 5 and the California Transportation Foundation (CTF) are offering three $750 scholarships to high school seniors within the five county district (Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties).

This scholarship program is entirely employee funded through the proceeds of coffee and snack sales in the district cafeteria. The scholarship program is designed for college-bound senior high school students who are planning to pursue a career in transportation and live within the five counties of the district. Applications must be postmarked by April 29, 2016.

For more information contact Joni Mullen at or visit the California Transportation Foundation Scholarships page here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Know a worthy high school graduating senior in the Monterey Peninsula?

The Monterey Peninsula College Foundation is accepting nominations for the Howard & Karin Evans College Incentive Program. Nominations may be submitted by staff members from any high school or organization that works with qualifying youth in the MPC service area.

Awards are made to students graduating from Carmel, Marina, Monterey, Seaside, or Pacific Grove high schools who come from a disadvantaged backgrounds and may not be able to finish college without additional support. More information and nomination forms are available here. Nomination forms for this program must be received by April 1, 2016.

In addition to the college incentive program, the Foundation is also accepting applications from qualified students for MPC Alumni Scholarships and Robert K. Bullock Journalism Scholarships.

Friday, March 25, 2016

History Day winners go on to statewide competition

Over 130 middle school students from all around Monterey County participated in the 26th annual History Day.

In preparation for the competition, held March 12 at Los Arboles Middle School, students engaged in extensive research of primary sources in order to present papers, posters, exhibits, performances, documentaries, and websites based on the theme “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History”. Students researched the impact, influence, and change that these events have had (or will have) on society, culture, and the course of human events.

The winners of the county competition will proceed to the California State History Day competition, which will take place May 5-7 in Rocklin, Calif.

County winners
Junior Individual Website:
Courtney Hand, “Exploring the Sewing Machine’s Impact on Women’s Work and the Clothing Industry.”
Broden Murray, “Exploring the Transistor’s Impact Upon Modern Computing.”

Junior Group Website:
Rose Akcan and Julia Alessio, “Exploring Pompeii: A City Rediscovered.”
Marshall Boen, Dante Garderet, and Viraj Shankar, “Exploring How the World Wars Affected Aviation.”

Junior Individual Documentary:
J.T. Byrne, “Exchanging Baseball Diamonds for Sandlots during World War II.”
Kate Popky, “Exploring the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

Junior Group Documentary:
Misa Franknedy, Suheil Ibrahim, Courtney Bishop, Kyle Bend, and Dale Sanchez, “Morris Frank and Buddy: How Guide Dogs Changed the World.”
Andrea Villa Cardenas, Joshua Berndt, Fletcher Gaucher, and Robert Flores, “The Gun That Won the West.”

Junior Group Performance:
Oakley Pelton and Angela Guevarra, “Adventures of Lewis Carroll.”
Nathan Bguyen, Mariana Gaytan Salgado, Kelly Lucha, and Kaylee Lucha, “Mozart: Exploring the Story Behind the Notes.”

Senior Group Performance:
Gabriella Flanders and Tara Smith, “From England to Salt Lake City: Exploring our Mormon Roots.”

Junior Historical Paper:
Heidi Hansch, “The City of Light: Baron Haussmann.”
Nina Harmer, “Revolutionizing Parenting: Dr. Benjamin Spock.”

Junior Individual Exhibits:
Mariah Trinity, “Exploring Radio: An Encounter with Better Communication.”
Graziella Cosentino, “Julia Morgan: Encountering Prejudice as the First Woman Architect in California.”

Junior Group Exhibits:
Riley Mann, Cameron Hill, Elijah Quenga, Sophia Boureston, and Isaiah Fuentes, “One Word… Plastics.”
Angela Zhang and Fei Wu, “Women’s Suffrage: Exploring Freedom for Women.”

Congratulations, winners! Have fun in Rocklin!

Carmel High mock trial team placed 8th in state championship

For the second year in a row,  Carmel High mock trial team earned a spot at the state level, earning 8th place overall during the 35th annual California Mock Trial Finals held March 18-20 in Sacramento.

At the Califonia Mock Trial Finals, the winning teams from 34 counties presented People v. Hayes, a criminal case involving murder and a pre-trial argument on the Fifth Amendment.

Carmel's pretrial attorney, Alex Poletti, won the J. Skelly Wright award for excellence in pre-trial advocacy on the prosecution.

Carmel's team has been doing great since their coach, government and politics teacher Bill Schrier, sign them up for the Empire mock trial competition two years ago. Congratulations, team!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Presenters and participants wanted for the first Alisal Technology Conference

What skills will students need to be successful in their future careers? How does technology enhance teaching and learning? Find out the answers to these question and more at the first Alisal presents Alisal Technology Conference.

Come ready to enhance your skills with integrating technology into your classroom. This edtech conference hopes to provide you with a choice of topics and sessions at various skill levels to best meet your needs.

To find out more, fill out the survey here. The conference will take place April 2, so stay tuned!

California schools chief wants your input to improve how schools report where money's being

A new online survey is seeking input from parents, teachers and other interested parties about the template schools are supposed to be using to report how they're spending new money under the Local Control Funding formula.

The plans are known as Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), and they are key tools for setting goals to improve student achievement and to match spending decisions with those goals.

The survey will let anyone who is interested – students, parents, educators, community members and others – help make the plans easier to use, understand, and review.

The survey will be open until 5 p.m. March 25. The California State Board of Education will be considering input from the public about how to improve the LCAP template this fall.

“The LCAPs should allow everyone to find out how well their local school district is doing,” California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “The system is new and still evolving. Please use the survey and we can work together to make the system better.”

The Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown created the new school funding system three years ago, and it shifts decision making to local districts and schools and gives greater resources for programs and services for students with the greatest needs. The new legislation also laid out the framework for LCAPs. State law requires school districts to involve teachers, parents, and community members in developing their LCAPs.

You can find the survey here. The information from the survey will help guide the redesign the template.

Everett Alvarez shines at CyberPatriot competition

A team of high school students from Everett Alvarez High School just finished a remarkable round of competition in the eighth season of CyberPatriot – the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

Led by Coach James Clayton, students Jose Amador, Jose Avina, Jose Matamoros, and Steven Lum, excelled in the CyberPatriot VIII qualifying rounds. The games, established by the Air Force Association, the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program, demand students demonstrate the teamwork, critical thinking skills, and technical knowledge needed for a successful career in cybersecurity.

 The team’s performance earned it a spot in a regional round held February 19-21, during which it outscored other teams to win the open division’s West Silver 2nd Place Tier Award.

The students are stoked, Clayton said.

"Our initial goal was to get more than 100 points during the first round, we had never scored more than 50 -60 the prior year in practice or competition. We scored 124," he wrote in an email. "The next round, the team score 138.7 and we were placed in the Silver tier based on our score, the lowest tier entering the state round. In the state round we scored 231.75 and didn’t place but was high enough to allow us to move on to the Regional Round (not all silver teams moved on to the regional round)."

The team scored 251.175 in the final round in the regional competition. which included California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The team did not qualify for the next, national round, but Clayton's excited nonetheless.

"Although we didn’t win a trip to Washington or make the Gold tier, I was proud of the team’s performance. The team improved each round," he said.

In all, 3,379 teams registered to compete in CyberPatriot VIII. To have scored that high against so many teams is truly impressive. Congratulations. Eagles! You make Monterey County proud!

Flu season still here, a month later than 2015

Eighteen students in a 5th grade class at Bay View Academy were out sick Monday, possibly with the flu, which prompted a teacher emailing a note to parents.

Cathy Gomes, student information manager at the school, said teachers have been encouraging families to keep students home if they're sick and to make sure they wash their hands to avoid the spread of viruses.

"We've made sure all the classrooms get thoroughly cleaned," she said.

Schools are required to report suspected outbreaks to the Monterey County Health Department, said spokeswoman Karen Smith.

"Specifically, we ask that school contact us if they see more than five children with suspected illness in a classroom, or more than 10 percent of the students out sick," she said in an email.

"We have had a few schools contact us this season with suspected increases in respiratory illnesses. We have worked with some schools to track the impacted classrooms, to improve hand hygiene practices, and to assist the school with flu prevention messaging for school staff and parents," she said.

But overall, it's been a typical flu season, Smith said. The season began to peak in February, which is a month later than last year.

"Peak flu activity will likely continue through March, which is a very good reason why people should still get the flu vaccine this year," she said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dan and Joanne Albert to receive MPC's President's Award

Former Monterey Mayor Dan Albert and his wife Joanne have been selected to receive the 2016 President’s Award by the Monterey Peninsula College and its foundation. The award will be presented at the 10th annual president’s address to the community on April 22 at the Monterey Marriott. For tickets, click here.

The President’s Award is presented annually to those that have made extraordinary contributions to the Monterey Peninsula community and the college. It recognizes the importance of the strong connection between MPC and the communities it serves.

“Dan and Joanne Albert provide us with extraordinary examples of how our lives can include dedicated service and selfless work to improve both our community and our college," MPC President Walter Tribley said in a statement. "They are Lobos and Lobos give back. We are so proud of their legacy of service and commitment to education and community development.”

Tribley will present the state of the college during the event. He's expected to outline MPC’s accomplishments, challenges, and future plans.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Come support our budding scientists during the science fair!

More than 500 students from middle schools and high schools from across the county will present over 350 science projects in this year’s Monterey County Science and Engineering Fair Competition held from Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6.

The public is invited to view winning science projects at Cal State Monterey Bay University Center from 11:00 a.m. until the awards ceremony at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 6.

Fair participants are drawn from public, private, parochial and home-schools in Monterey County. This is a chance for student to demonstrate original research. They work independently or in teams to address questions in a wide-variety of scientific fields including Computer Science, Environmental Science, Medicine & Health, Chemistry, and Biology.

Students display their research projects and present their findings orally and through written journals to a team of 100 scientists who volunteer as judges.

Science Fair projects are awarded prizes with 22 top projects becoming eligible to participate in the California State Science Fair. The top three Senior Division projects may be eligible to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which will be held in Phoenix, Arizona in May.

Come take a look. You'll be impressed.

Lincoln Elementary students get up close and personal with a cow

Students at Lincoln Elementary in Salinas learned how milk and dairy foods get from the farm to the table when a real cow and calf visited the school on Feb. 25.

The experience was brought by the Mobile Dairy Classroom, sponsored by Dairy Council of California. The learning lab teaches K-6 students about cow anatomy, cow care on the farm, the milking process and agriculture technology. Instructors integrate Language arts, math and science into the lesson, which aligns with Common Core State Standards. Students also learn about healthy food and activity choices.

“For many students, this is the first opportunity they have to see a cow up close,” said in a statement Brandon Roberts, the Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor. “And while the students are having fun, the lessons they are learning are important.”

Mobile Dairy Classroom – the original Farm-to-School program in California – began in the 1930s as a joint venture between dairyman Clarence Michel of Edgemar Farms and Dairy Council of California. Michel would travel weekly to schools in his area in a truck built to accommodate a real cow and teach children how milk and dairy foods were produced.

These days, the Mobile Dairy Classroom reaches more than 453,000, with six full-time instructors who travel to elementary schools, agriculture days and fairs throughout the state. The assemblies are offered at no cost to schools and are part of dairy farm families’ and dairy companies’ efforts to give back to the community. California dairies support the program by providing cows and calves for assemblies.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Photos by Bob Fitch will be on display at CSUMB's main library for three months

Approximately 50 images from the Bob Fitch Photography Archive at Stanford Libraries will be exhibited throughout the Tanimura & Antle Library at CSUMB starting March 3.

The photos depict historical events from the peace, social justice and cultural movements of the 1960s and ’70s.

Professor Richard Bains has worked for two years to bring the exhibit to campus. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for students and the local community to see these photos,” Bains said in a press release.

Fitch trained to be an engineer, and then a Protestant minister. In 1966, while working as staff photographer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he took what has become an iconic shot of Martin Luther King, Jr. The photograph served as the model for the Martin Luther King Monument in Washington, D.C. Taken in Atlanta, it captured King with his arms crossed, staring to his right. An illustration of Mahatma Gandhi hangs nearby.

Another Fitch photo served as the model for the Cesar Chavez commemorative postage stamp. His work has been featured in two Smithsonian traveling exhibits and been reproduced globally.

He has captured images of the farm worker movement, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers, and Joan Baez and the peace movement, as well as the Civil Rights movement.

Fitch, 77, lives in Watsonville. In 2012, he visited CSUMB to talk on “My Eyes Have Seen: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Civil Rights Movement,” as part of Black History Month.

Most of the photos will be displayed in the third floor study area of the Tanimura & Antle Library, others will be exhibited throughout the building. Library hours are 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. to midnight Sunday. Driving directions and a campus map are available here.

Carmel's Grace Wang takes first place for Monterey County's Spelling Bee.

Grace Wang of Carmel River School took first place during the Lyceum’s Spelling Bee on Saturday. She outlasted 61 other finalists representing 31 schools from throughout the Monterey County as she aced words such as carbohydrate, habitual, disguise, immortalize and hesitance.

Placing second was Emma Pugh of Tularcitos School in Carmel Valley. She correctly spelled such words as superficial, rebellious, discrimination suspended and interjection.

Close behind were the third and fourth place finishers, Nikos Douros from Carmel River School, and Samuel Low of Mission Park School. Nikos spelled diploma, disrupting, trajectory, grievous, illuminate and itinerary, while Samuel correctly spelled philosopher, preliminary, quarrelsome, speculate and exhaustion.

About 350 parents, teachers, principals, a superintendent (one of the spelling words), great-grandparents, grandparents and siblings provided enthusiastic support for these spelling aces, said Tom Nelson, the Lyceum's executive director.

L to R: Grace Wang, Emma Pugh, Nikos Douros, Samuel Low